2014 Spring Practice #2: Notes

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The legends turned out for practice on a beautiful Thursday afternoon.
  • All-Americans Ronnie Lott, Shaun Cody and Keyshawn Johnson were in attendance for the second practice of the Steve Sarkisian era.
  • The offense made some plays today led by TE Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick who has important role on this team as the only healthy scholarship tight end during spring football.  "In this system, we love to utilize the tight end," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "Jalen has really focused himself on trying to come out and have a good spring. He got opportunities today to make plays down the field and he made them."
  • Justin Wilcox is USC's third defensive coordinator in the last three seasons.  However, senior LB Hayes Pullard described Wilcox's 3-4 as "partners in crime" with Clancy Pendergast's 5-2, so the learning curve won't be as steep.
  • Wilcox's goal for spring is to install a full "menu" of defensive concepts, and then pair down the scheme in the fall to fit USC's personnel strength and the opponent's offenses.
  • Wilcox also benefits from having a defensive quarterback like Pullard return for his senior season. "Because he's played so much football, he understands concepts. He knows the game. He knows what it takes to be a good player," said Wilcox.
  • Why did Pullard decide to return to Troy? "I promised my mom that I was going to graduate with a degree. The NFL will always be there."
  • Pullard was once the young freshman looking up to Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan.  Now, he is the old man in the locker room.  "Most definitely.  I come out here and try to mingle with the younger guys just to feel young again, but I know at the end of the day, I'm a man amongst boys," Pullard said.
  • Pullard is not the only leader on the defense.  DB Josh Shaw and DL Leonard Williams have been praised for their leadership ability, Steve Sarkisian noted that DL Antwaun Woods is maturing into a leader.
  • Sarkisian's plan to compensate for USC's depth issues is to have players that are versatile enough to play multiple positions. At nearly every position group, the players are working at all the different spots, so that when injuries do occur, the Trojans won't be caught shorthanded.
  • Here is Sarkisian's entire post-practice presser:

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